30 August 2017

Rwanda: Police Probe Diane Rwigara for Suspected Tax Evasion, Forgery

Photo: NBS TV/Youtube
Diane Rwigara.

Rwanda police has said it is carrying out investigations into suspected tax evasion and forgery involving one of President Paul Kagame's fierce critic, Diane Rwigara.

Officers raided her family home on Tuesday evening at the upscale suburb of Kiyovu in the capital Kigali, the police said on Wednesday.

Theos Badege, the police spokesman, told The EastAfrican that preliminary investigations are being conducted before a case can be opened against her and her family.

He dispelled claims that she had been arrested.

"She is not under arrest and neither are any of her family members" he said, adding that "what is true is that we conducted a lawful search in her home, looking for evidence on two crimes – using fake documents and tax evasion."

Local media had earlier reported that she had been taken into custody along with her mother.

"I have just learnt this news about arrests from the media. I can neither confirm nor deny that they have been arrested," Janvier Rwagatare, the family's lawyer said when contacted by The EastAfrican.

Ms Rwigara's phone was off when The EastAfrican tried to reach her.

The police say Ms Rwigara, 35, is being investigated for alleged use of forged signatures during her presidential bid. She was disqualified from the August 4 election which President Kagame won with a landslide victory.

Shortly after her disqualification, Rwanda's Parti Sociale (PS-Imberakuri), threatened legal action against her, accusing her of using its list of members as part of the signatures she submitted to the electoral commission in her quest for presidency.

Family business

The family of deceased Kigali tycoon, Assinapol Rwigara, is also being probed for suspected tax evasion.

The family has businesses in real estate and tobacco manufacturing.

Mr Rwigara died in a road accident in February 2015, which the family cited as a foul play and unsuccessfully petitioned President Kagame to call for fresh investigations into the manner in which he died.

Jail terms

Ms Rwigara, who launched a rights movement a week after a failed presidential bid, is a fierce critic of President Kagame, often accusing his government for clamping down on freedoms of expression, media and political space.

If found culpable, Ms Rwigara could face more than five years behind bars for the alleged crimes.

According to Rwanda's penal code, forgery attracts five to seven years in jail and a fine of Rwf3 million.

Similarly, tax evasion attracts imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine equal to the evaded levies.


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